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Month: March 2009

Coping with Stalking and Stalkers

A Typology of Stalkers Stalkers are not made of one cloth. Some of them are psychopaths, others are schizoids, narcissists, paranoids, or an admixture of these mental health disorders. Stalkers harass their victims because they are lonely, or because it is fun (these are latent sadists), or because they can’t help it (clinging or co-dependent behaviour), or for a myriad different reasons. Clearly, coping techniques suited to one type of stalker may backfire or prove to be futile with another. The only denominator common to all bullying stalkers is their pent-up rage. The stalker is angry at his or...

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Ambient Abuse and Gaslighting

Ambient abuse is the stealth, subtle, underground currents of maltreatment that sometimes go unnoticed even by the victims themselves, until it is too late. Ambient abuse penetrates and permeates everything – but is difficult to pinpoint and identify. It is ambiguous, atmospheric, diffuse. Hence its insidious and pernicious effects. It is by far the most dangerous kind of abuse there is. It is the outcome of fear – fear of violence, fear of the unknown, fear of the unpredictable, the capricious, and the arbitrary. It is perpetrated by dropping subtle hints, by disorienting, by constant – and unnecessary –...

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What is Abuse?

Violence in the family often follows other forms of more subtle and long-term abuse: verbal, emotional, psychological sexual, or financial. It is closely correlated with alcoholism, drug consumption, intimate-partner homicide, teen pregnancy, infant and child mortality, spontaneous abortion, reckless behaviours, suicide, and the onset of mental health disorders. Most abusers and batterers are males – but a significant minority are women. This being a “Women’s Issue”, the problem was swept under the carpet for generations and only recently has it come to public awareness. Yet, even today, society – for instance, through the court and the mental health systems – largely ignores domestic violence and abuse in the family. This induces feelings of shame and guilt in the victims and “legitimizes” the role of the abuser. Violence in the family is mostly spousal – one spouse beating, raping, or otherwise physically harming and torturing the other. But children are also and often victims – either directly, or indirectly. Other vulnerable familial groups include the elderly and the disabled. Abuse and violence cross geographical and cultural boundaries and social and economic strata. It is common among the rich and the poor, the well-educated and the less so, the young and the middle-aged, city dwellers and rural folk. It is a universal phenomenon. Abusers exploit, lie, insult, demean, ignore (the “silent treatment”), manipulate, and control. There are many ways to abuse....

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Diet, Anxiety and Depression

Marianne consulted with me because of anxiety and depression. She had tried various forms of medication but was not reacting well to any of the drugs. She was exhausted from lack of sleep, and from the intense anxiety that kept waking her up. While there were challenges in her life, like in everyone’s life, none were extreme enough to have this effect on her. She spent her days depressed and her nights awake and anxious. Marianne had done years of inner work and fully understood that her thoughts create her feelings. She was vigilant about thinking thoughts that were positive, so she could not understand why she was having such a hard time. When she awoke at night in a panic, she could not seem to gain control of her thoughts. She would ruminate over and over about the various challenges in her life. She was very discouraged that she had so much therapy and had done so much inner healing work, and still felt so awful. Sometimes she felt like she was going crazy because she felt so out of control over her thoughts and feelings. Marianne had a deep spiritual connection. She did not feel alone in her life, knowing that her spiritual guidance was always with her and always guiding her, which made her anxiety and depression all the more perplexing and upsetting to her. “I...

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ODD: Handling School Defiance

Handling school defiance can be extremely difficult. Most professional teachers get very little mental health training. And if you’ve been teaching for any length of time it will be obvious to you that you didn’t have anywhere near enough. Is there a child in your class who is openly defiant and disruptive? Nothing seems to help his behavior. It may help to read this article on oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and learn how to handle a child with this condition. Here is just a small fraction of what you need to know in order to keep control and assist children with oppositional defiant disorder. Oppositional defiant disorder is a mental health disorder that describes children who resist authority. They often act as if they don’t have a conscience, deliberately causing arguments and manipulating others. This affects their ability to form successful relationships. Only a professional can make a diagnosis of ODD, but it is important that teachers and other youth workers understand the condition. Oppositional defiant disorder is similar to conduct disorder. However, ODD is much less severe. A diagnosis of ODD is much more hopeful, as many children improve greatly and many don’t meet the diagnostic criteria after treatment or simply grow out of it. With conduct disorder, however, there is less chance of improvement. Another important point is that it is very hard to diagnose ODD. ODD...

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